Another wave of risk aversion swept over emerging market currencies and global equities on Wednesday, although the rouble was among the less severely hit after Russia’s central bank revealed it had carried out further intervention on foreign exchanges to slow its currency’s decline.
Central Bank of Russia sold $420m in defence of the rouble earlier this week, following a $980m intervention on Friday. The central bank also moved the upper limit of the rouble’s trading band by a further 5 kopeks to 35.65-44.65.
“The CBR has raised its basket corridor by 20 kopeks since last Friday, indicating FX sales worth at least $1.4bn,” said Simon Quijano-Evans at Commerzbank.
The rouble held its ground better than most of its emerging market rivals, but still drifted 0.1 per cent lower to Rbs39.98 against the dollar, amid warnings of further weakness.
Mr Quijano-Evans added: “These are the first interventions since May, but without big-time CBR presence in the market, the rouble will drift further in our view, especially given the latest oil price action.”
Russian growth is heavily reliant on oil and gas exports, and on Wednesday Brent crude, the global oil benchmark, was down 91 cents at $91.20 a barrel – its weakest in two years after a 20 per cent fall since June.
Meanwhile, Israel’s shekel continued to weaken a day after its central bank was reported to have bought up to $300m of foreign currency in an effort to stimulate growth and inflation without lowering interest rates. The shekel fell 0.4 per cent to Shk3.7277 versus the dollar.
Most Asian emerging market currencies were lower. The Indonesian rupiah fell 0.3 per cent to Rp12,230, the Malaysian ringgit lost 0.5 per cent to M$3.2725 and the South Korean won fell by as much as 1 per cent to hit a six-month low of Won1,074.75.
Analysts suggested the South Korean monetary authorities would be less concerned about the won’s fall given comments from exporters about the ill effects of won strength – it is only three months ago that the currency was at a six-year high.
In Europe, the Hungarian forint fell 0.5 per cent to Ft243.68 against the dollar, while expectations of a rate cut in Poland later on Wednesday were largely priced in and the zloty eased 0.2 per cent to 3.3073 zlotys.
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